"Learn how to work in groups. As someone who absolutely hated group projects through high school and college, all of my work today is done in a group setting. Learn where you excel in a group and learn where you fall short. It makes things so much easier when you know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to communicate with others."
Hear Kelsey talk about her path to her career and advice on how to get there!
Here I am playing one of the projects/games that I helped to market & advertise!
My career roadmap has been defined since the beginning.
Since a young age, I’ve always loved writing and knew I wanted to go into a more creative field. My junior year at AOC I took a course in media communications – simply because it sounded fun. I immediately was hooked and knew this was the career field for me.
Senior year, we were assigned a research paper in English class on our dream career path. I knew this was a great time to learn more about the media industry and learn more about marketing and PR campaigns.
I then began studying public relations at Pepperdine and got my first internship at a media and event planning agency in LA the summer after my freshman year. Here, I got first-hand experience in event planning and media correspondence.
While studying abroad my sophomore year, I took a course in cross-cultural communication where I analyzed ads of different countries and the impact these had on society. I realized I also had a passion for advertising and added that as a second major.
Returning to Pepperdine after a year abroad, I worked for a local nonprofit, working primarily in social media. I also took my all-time favorite advertising course in which we created a full ad campaign and pitched it to a panel of advertising execs. It was SO much fun and taught me so much about the industry – how it works, how to execute ideas, and how to pitch.
I knew my time abroad wasn’t over, so I went across the pond and spent a summer in London working for a PR agency. Here, I was an “experiential PR intern” where I helped plan experiential marketing and pop-up events for different brands, working with influencers and media to ensure these were successful. It was a totally different area of the industry that I hadn’t been exposed to, and I ended up loving it more than any internship or job experience I had in the past.
I graduated Pepperdine in 2018, got a job at Ruder Finn in corporate communications, and moved to New York City. Today, I’m still in the city and working in a career and industry that I adore.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Pepperdine’s Youth Citizenship Seminar attendee and intern – which solidified my choice to attend Pepperdine and helped give me a larger perspective of the world beyond SCV
Chairman of Assisteens
Visions in Progress youth committee for Santa Clarita
Taught piano lessons to kids in the area and at the Boys and Girls Club
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
Kappa Alpha Theta sorority – where I served as Chief Marketing Officer which has opened more doors than I had expected!
Internships at two PR firms
Social media work for a local nonprofit
Joining Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which built my network and connections in the industry
Volunteer for local high school mentorship organization in New York
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
Currently, I’m an Account Executive at Ruder Finn – the largest private PR agency in the world – working in our corporate communications division. I represent a number of clients across a variety of industries, from consumer to tech to healthcare to nonprofit, and specialize in external communications and thought leadership. Here, I’ve had experience in a wide range of PR, such as event planning, media outreach, social media campaigns, website design, and byline writing.
As for my long-term career, I’m still trying to figure it out! I studied abroad twice in undergrad, and still plan on living and working abroad again. I would also love to work for an agency that is focused more on experiential marketing, so we will see!
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Intern as much as you possibly can!! School is immensely important, but I have my current job because of internships I completed as an undergrad. I learned so much in my classes, but I wouldn’t be successful if I never learned how to apply principles from the classroom to the real world. And – your parents and teachers will hate me for saying this – I got my first internship because I skipped class for a volunteer event, in which they offered me a summer position on the spot.
Advice #2: Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in the career field you’re interested in. People love to talk about what they’re passionate about, and odds are they are willing to help you. LinkedIn is a great resource. Also, and this is something I wish I knew way earlier, most companies offer their employees incentives to bring in new hires – even interns! I know my company gives a nice bonus to anyone who recommends a candidate that is hired. So, at the end of the day you are helping them too.
Advice #3: Learn how to work in groups. As someone who absolutely hated group projects through high school and college, all of my work today is done in a group setting. Learn where you excel in a group and learn where you fall short. It makes things so much easier when you know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to communicate with others.
Advice #4: Your major, while important, does not determine your career. Most of my friends are doing something completely different than what they studied in undergrad. Some of my coworkers studied history, philosophy, biology, political science and are all now in PR and marketing; and I have friends from college who studied PR, advertising, marketing but are now working in a law firm or in finance.
Advice #5: Find what you are passionate about and where your strengths lie. You’ll be working 40+ hours a week for half your life – make sure it’s something you truly love!